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Can Micah McFadden clear the linebacker traffic for New York Giants?

McFadden is one of many Giants 2022 draft picks fighting for a roster spot

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants
Micah McFadden
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

When a team has an 11-pick draft class, there’s a good chance that some of those players will not make the 53-man roster. The fact that all 11 New York Giants draft picks from 2022 are still with the team a year later is surprising. Several of those players are fighting to retain their spots, whether due to injury, underperformance, or replacement on the roster. Micah McFadden is one of them, as he battles to find a spot at inside linebacker.

By the numbers

Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 232
Age: 23
Position: Inside linebacker
Experience: 1
Contract: second year of four-year, $4,015,704 million rookie deal | Guaranteed at signing: $355,704 | 2023 cap hit: $958,926

Career to date

McFadden played for four years at Indiana. He became a starter at middle linebacker in his sophomore season in 2019 when he logged 60 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one pass breakup, and two interceptions. As a junior, McFadden logged 59 tackles, 10.5 for loss, six sacks, and two interceptions in eight games. He was named an AP third-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten as well as Indiana’s MVP. In his senior year, he had 77 total tackles, 15.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks, three pass breakups, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. He a second-team All-Big Ten honoree and repeated as Indiana’s MVP.

The Giants selected McFadden with the No. 146 pick in the 2022 draft. He began the season logging more special teams snaps than defensive ones, and he played 97 special teams and 96 defensive snaps through the first eight weeks.

In total, McFadden’s biggest struggle during his rookie season was in coverage. He played primarily inside linebacker, posting a 30.0 Pro Football Focus coverage grade on 172 reps. He allowed 22 of 27 completions (81.5%) for 269 yards and a touchdown, including 195 yards after the catch. His targeted passer rating was 120.5.

McFadden’s run defense was also spotty, as his 51.4 PFF grade ranked 56th out of 65 qualified linebackers (min. 200 run defense snaps). His 6.7% run-stop rate ranked 35th, and his 10.5% missed tackle rate in the run game ranked 43rd.

Overall, McFadden’s PFF grade was 38.7, which ranked the third-worst out of 68 qualified linebackers (min. 425 defensive snaps). He posted 59 combined tackles (36 solo), six for loss, two sacks and quarterback hits, and one forced fumble in 17 games (seven starts). He played 117 special teams snaps split primarily between kick returns, kick coverage, and punt returns, earning a 65.2 PFF grade in that area.

2023 outlook

McFadden is fighting for a spot in a competitive Giants inside linebacker room. He saw more defensive responsibility as the regular season progressed but was inactive during the playoffs, as his role was replaced by Jarrad Davis.

Davis returns in 2023, as does 2022 sixth-rounder Darrian Beavers from his torn ACL. The arrival of Bobby Okereke further narrows the roster spots. How many off-ball linebackers will the Giants carry on their roster?

McFadden appears to be competing for playing time with Beavers and Davis

However, the fact is that McFadden did play in his rookie season and was healthy, while Beavers is working his way back. Beavers looked good in last year’s preseason, but an ACL tear is a serious injury to come back from. That gives McFadden a bit of a leg up in the early going.

Still, McFadden struggled in key areas in his rookie season, especially in coverage. Beavers posted a 69.1 PFF coverage grade in his final year in college at Cincinnati. The final linebacker room is still up in the air, which leaves both players fighting for a spot.